2. Hire a wedding specialist
Problem: How do you know if a photographer is a wedding specialist?
Solution: Ask potential photographers if they specialize in wedding photography or some other genre.
This is a very simple tip but it’s probably the most important and applies to all of your wedding vendors. Is your potential vendor a wedding specialist? When it comes to photography, is your wedding photographer really a wedding photographer? Or are they some other kind of photographer that shoots an occasional wedding? This is a crucial question because wedding photography is very difficult! Everyone’s heard of the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Well if there is ever a day you want masters and not Jacks, it’s your wedding day! As I outline in Tip #3, wedding photography requires a difficult combination of skills that many photographers do not have. On the other hand, a wedding specialist will be able to gracefully handle any challenges that arise on your wedding day, because that’s what they do and what they’re passionate about! They’ve seen it all, and they’re up on their wedding game, so they’re ready to make your day perfect. A wedding specialist won’t be shaking off rust on your wedding day, and they won’t get tired after 10 hours on their feet because they’re always in “wedding shape.” All of these points are laid out in more detail in Tip #3, but I want to make a different point here, which is this: you should still hire a wedding specialist, even if you find the rare non-wedding specialist with the right skill set. I have two reasons detailed below, along with some concrete advice on how to find out if a potential photographer is a wedding specialist.
First, a wedding specialist is likely to deliver a better product than a non-wedding specialist, even if they have similar gear and skills because the wedding specialist is more passionate about weddings. Passion is a crucial ingredient in success. A lot of photographers are great at using cameras but are not passionate about weddings. A little passion goes a long way in my book, because everyone performs better when they’re passionate, and conversely, it’s rare to get an impassionate person’s best effort. You are putting your whole heart into your wedding day, and your wedding photographer (and all of your vendors) should too. In fact, they should be putting their whole heart into your wedding long before your wedding day! Wedding photographers like myself, spend our down time practicing and studying to make every wedding better. We look back at old timelines and consult with other wedding vendors to see what works and what doesn’t. We test shoot to learn new techniques and try out new gear. We scout locations for engagement sessions and look for new ways to shoot each venue. We try new wedding products so we can always deliver the absolute best heirloom quality products for our wedding clients (see Tip #4). In short, passion breeds preparation, and preparation breeds success. What separates a wedding specialist from a non-specialist is the desire to make every wedding better than the last, and putting in effort every day to make that goal a reality. I wake up every day with weddings on my mind and I bring that passion to every wedding. So while it’s not guaranteed you’ll get terrible photos if you hire a non-wedding specialist, the odds are better that you’ll get photos worthy of your wedding day if you do hire a wedding specialist.
Second, it’s not just your photos that will be better if you hire a wedding photographer, it’s the entire flow of your wedding day and your ability to relax and enjoy it. Even if a non-wedding specialist could deliver the exact same artwork for you (and that’s a big if), there is still an added benefit to hiring a wedding specialist because it will give you peace of mind and let you enjoy your day knowing you have a wedding specialist in your corner that can handle anything your day throws at them (see Tip #3 and Tip #5 for more). Let me give you an example. Imagine you hired a Mexican restaurant to cater your Italian wedding dinner. Why would you do that? Well maybe for the same reason you’d hire a senior portrait photographer, maternity photographer, or some other non-wedding photographer to shoot your wedding. You know them, you like them, they have all of the gear required (fancy stoves and ovens to cook with), and they tell you they can do the job just as good as the Italian restaurant. And maybe they can. But a maybe is not a guarantee, and that doubt is going to creep into your mind on a day when you should not be focused on anything other than celebrating your love! You shouldn’t be worried about a vendor not being able to pull their weight on your wedding day and if you surround yourself with professional wedding specialists, you can rest assured that you’ve done everything in your power to make your day a success and be able to sit back and enjoy it!
So how do you know if a potential photographer is a wedding specialist or not?
1. Look a their website. Are the first photos you see wedding photos? Are wedding photos more prominent than any other type of photos (such as family, maternity, newborns, seniors, fashion, boudoir, landscapes, travel, etc)? I would expect to see 80-100% wedding photos on a wedding specialist’s website, and the first photos you see should be wedding photos.
2. Check their social media. You can really tell where a person’s passions lie on facebook, twitter and blogs. First, see what they’ve been up to lately. Don’t be alarmed to see a few non-wedding posts, especially during the off-season (during winter for most wedding photographers), as many of us do test shoots and studio work to stay on our game. But if you have to scroll for a long time to find a wedding then you’re probably not dealing with a wedding specialist. Second, read some of their posts and try to gauge how passionate they are about weddings compared to other types of photography. If they post a fashion photo and are like “Oh my god this was so much fun I can’t wait to do it again,” while the caption for uploading a gallery of wedding photos is “More from the Johnson wedding…” then you might assume they are more passionate about fashion photography than wedding photography.
3. Ask them! If you’re considering hiring someone as your wedding photographer then you need to speak with them in person! I mention this over and over again throughout these 5 tips. Take the opportunity to flat out ask them: Are you primarily a wedding photographer or do you specialize in some other type of photography? What other genres of photography do you specialize in?
Key tip: Hire passionate wedding specialists and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your wedding day like you deserve to!
Next: Tip #3